Sometimes the right thing is unpopular.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), just a week after having removed an aggressive brain tumor, and days after delivering a powerful speech in which he called for a return to regular order within the Senate chambers, came under fire last Friday. McCain was the consequential vote in the 51-49 downvote of the so called “skinny repeal” bill. The phrase “skinny repeal” was quite fitting for this bill, because it did almost no actual repealing of Obamacare and all that it established.
Having failed twice (once in the House and once in the Senate), Congressional Republicans decided it best to move forward with anything that could pass through on a fifty-plus-one vote — even if all it repealed was the Affordable Care Act in-name-only. The bill scored “well” in one area relative to past GOP efforts; the number of uninsured. This “number left uninsured” is an entirely misleading term and an outrageous talking point used by Democrats to thwart any GOP effort. In each Congressional Budget Office score of the healthcare bills, a figure in the millions was guesstimated to be the number of people “left” without insurance under the new legislation. But almost all of these select few citizens would be *choosing* not to have insurance, as it would be cheaper for them. This is not a bad thing. Regardless, the “skinny repeal” was only estimated to allow 16 million people to forgo coverage. So, Congressional Republicans touted it as the only way forward under the false pretenses set forward by Democrats.
However, the whole point of repealing Obamacare was to get rid of its regulations which make it expensive for the mid-to-lower classes, and the mandate. In many cases, it was cheaper to pay the fine for not having insurance than it was to buy into the “exchange” (I use quotations because there is virtually no actual exchange under governmental regulation). The “skinny repeal” would have exacerbated this problem by raising premiums around 20 percent. Additionally, the “skinny repeal” would have only repealed 2.1 percent of Obamacare’s 419 sections. Nearly all of Obamacare would have remained intact (below figure).
Many Republicans became so focused on repealing Obamacare that they disregarded substance in favor of headlines. This is not an easy process, and Republicans have botched nearly every step along the way. But the “skinny repeal” was not a case of letting perfect being the enemy of good, the “skinny repeal” only stuck the GOP between the colloquial rock and hard place. The new “leader” of the party’s obsession with headlines and 160 character-based policy, seems to have trickled down to his counterparts on Capitol Hill. A name-only repeal bill is not what America needs, and the GOP would rue its passing. Regardless of whether he realized the many bill’s issues or not, they might have McCain to thank for averting the disaster that would have been “skinny repeal.”
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